Buscher to the DL; Watkins Up
After fighting a losing battle with an infection in his leg, Brian Buscher has landed on the DL. The Twins bypassed the obvious callup in Matt Tolbert, who is hitting .303 for the Red Wings and who has seemed destined for a promotion all year. Red Wings coaches apparently feel that Tolbert isn't quite mentally tough enough for the big leagues right now, and I guess we have to trust them -- after all, these guys are with the players all the time, and get to take good, long looks at them. They know what it takes to perform in the big leagues, and if they say Tolbert isn't ready for prime time, then he probably isn't ready for prime time. That said, part of me insists that this reason seems somewhat bogus. I can't really think of another explanation, though, so I guess we have to go with what's been given.
The beneficiary of all this is Tommy Watkins, a 27-year-old minor league veteran who was probably starting to doubt whether he'd ever get the call. Watkins isn't playing badly with Rochester -- .272/.753/8 HR/49 RBI in 349 AB's -- but he also hasn't exactly been spectacular. His callup therefore comes as a bit of a surprise. Nevertheless, he deserves a shot if for no reason other than his perseverance. A 38th round selection in the 1998 draft, Watkins has slowly and methodically made his way through the organization, never hitting above .272 (yes, so far this has been a career year for him), and compiling a .249 lifetime minor league average. His versatility in the field has kept him in the organization, and he's just kept chugging along. Now, he gets his shot at the bigtime.
I don't know how Watkins will perform or how much playing time he gets -- I'm guessing not well and not much. I will still be rooting hard for him, however. I would love to see a guy like him make good in the Majors, and he could potentially supplant a guy like Luis Rodriguez on the roster next year. It's much more likely, though, that he'll get a few at-bats and be shipped back to Rochester as soon as Buscher is ready to return. We may start to find out as soon as tomorrow afternoon, when there's a good chance that Watkins will make his Major League debut in the heat of a Kansas City day game. And heck -- if the Royals pitch like they did today, he might even knock the ball around a little bit.